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She didn’t love Michael. Period. And if Hunter hadn’t come back into her life, she would have probably married Michael. No matter what happened, she still cared for him, and he deserved respect. Escaping to the kitchen and away from her son’s little ears she found the house phone and called Michael’s disposable phone.

He picked up on the second ring. “Hello?”

“It’s me.” The words caught in her throat.

“Is everything okay?” The deep concern in his voice made her feel even worse.

“Not really.”

“Is it Jonathan—”

“No, nothing like that. Listen, I don’t even know how to say this.” She sank down onto one of the chairs.

“Ahh, this is about us then?”

She nodded even though he couldn’t see her. “I didn’t want to do this over the phone.”

“Have you slept with him?” His voice was clipped.


“But you want to.” It wasn’t a question.

A denial was on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn’t bring herself to say it. She also didn’t admit it aloud. Saying yes was just as bad as lying.

“I had a feeling this was coming. I didn’t think it would happen so fast though.”


“I would have had to be blind not to see the way you looked at him.”

“What?” She knew she sounded like a broken record.

“Let’s not do this, Alexis. I’ve known for a long time you don’t love me the same way I love you. I thought it could work anyway. We both respect and admire each other. Seeing you with him, though…well, I guess that’s done then.”

“Wait, don’t you want to talk about this?” She could hear the desperation in her own voice.

“Is there anything I can say to convince you to stay with me?” His voice was wry.

No. The word stuck in her throat, but her silence was answer enough.

“I didn’t think so,” he said quietly.

“We’ll still be friends, though, right?” The question was totally lame. She knew it. He knew it. It just seemed the expected thing to say.


She didn’t believe his answer any more than he did. Once they disconnected, she stared at the silent portable in her hand. Michael had never been very vocal about anything. And he’d always been so…civilized. No fuss, no muss, about anything. Why had she expected this to be any different? A few stray tears escaped, but she quickly brushed them away. His reaction soothed her guilt a little, but not much.

Returning to the living room, she plopped back on the couch. She’d have to tell Hunter one way or the other. After the near kiss at the motel room, she had an idea what his reaction would be. And she wasn’t sure if she could handle it.

Hunter fired up his laptop and tapped his finger against the mouse. As if the harder he stared, the faster it would turn on. When he opened the picture from Michael’s email he only had to view it once. The man was exactly who he suspected.

Marcus Foster. Looked like Davis’s partner was the man who’d been in Hurley Beach. Hunter almost wished he could be surprised. It made sense he’d be sent to do Davis’s dirty work. He knew what Foster was capable of—hell, he had the pictures to prove what a slimy bastard the man was—but torturing an innocent civilian meant they were getting desperate.

Hunter had known he’d eventually have to make a choice about what to do with all the information he possessed. He just hadn’t expected it to be so soon. If Connor turned out to be dirty too, it wouldn’t be easy to find someone else to listen to his accusations. Forming a case against a respected CIA veteran wasn’t something done lightly. As it stood, having Connor as an ally was his best bet.

A soft knock on the door jarred him out of his thoughts. “Come in.”

Alexis took a few tentative steps inside, then perched on the edge of the bed. When an image of her sprawled out naked entered his mind for what felt like the hundredth time, he shifted his position and turned back to his computer. If he ever wanted to get a decent night’s sleep again, he had to stop with the fantasies. Even if he wanted to indulge in them and simply kiss her, Alexis would hate him for it later. She wasn’t the kind of woman who cheated, and he couldn’t put her in that position knowing they had no future and he had nothing to offer her.

He gestured to the screen. “This is probably the guy who killed your friend. His name is Marcus Foster.”

“He doesn’t look scary.” When she leaned forward over his shoulder, her hair brushed against his face, and the scent of jasmine enveloped him. He groaned, but didn’t realize it was aloud until she looked at him, eyebrows raised.


A few inappropriate responses came to mind, but he reined himself in. He’d already pushed her far enough. He didn’t want to come on too strong and alienate her. “Nothing. Listen, I know what we talked about earlier, but now that I know Foster is directly involved, we need to make some decisions. Especially after we were almost attacked in broad daylight. Since that woman was killed over a day ago, it’s likely that Foster is the man who attacked us on the beach. If Davis isn’t calling in outsiders to do his dirty work, he’s getting desperate, so now’s the time to make a move.”

“I just gave Jonathan a bath and put him to bed. Can I grab a glass of wine while we have this conversation? I saw a few bottles in the pantry.”

“Sure… Did Jonathan already eat dinner?”

“He wasn’t hungry and I didn’t have the energy to try to convince him.”

“I don’t blame you,” he murmured.

His phone vibrated in his pocket, and when he saw the number his heart rate increased. “I’ll meet you in the kitchen in a sec, okay?”

Her lips pulled into a thin line but she nodded. He waited until she shut the door to answer the phone. “Tell me you have good news.”

“Depends on what you’re looking for,” Rick said.

Hunter wasn’t sure what he wanted, but any news was better than nothing. “Come on, what’ve you got?”

“Both men are clean.”

“Even Connor?”

“Especially him. He has two kids in college on scholarship. His mortgage is almost paid off. He and his wife vacation once a year. Usually to Florida to visit her family. Both their cars are five years old. Nothing about either of these men or their spending habits stands out. And I can’t find any hidden bank accounts.”

“What about Saltz?”

“No red flags on him either. He must have been working a job recently because his bank accounts have seen little movement in the past year except payroll deposits from the government.”

“How far back did you look?”

“Five years.”

“All right. Thanks, man, I owe you.”

Rick grunted and disconnected.

Hunter shut down his computer and scrubbed a hand over his face. He really needed to take a jog and burn off some energy but there was no way that was happening. It was decision time.

Alexis shut the door to Jonathan’s room and sagged against the wall. Hunter was still on the phone so she checked on her son again. Thankfully he was sound asleep. Something she desperately needed a few solid hours of herself. Guilt kept building in her to the point she wanted to scream. Maybe if they’d handled things differently or warned everyone instead of only adding extra security, Maria wouldn’t be dead. No one knew for sure the woman’s death was linked to them, but in her gut, Alexis knew the truth. This was her fault.

“You all right?” She straightened at Hunter’s deep voice.

All thoughts fled when she looked at him. Hunter leaned against the wall near the end of the hallway, arms crossed over his chest. Even though he was clothed, the fabric stretched across his muscular torso, revealing the defined body she’d touched and kissed so many times the memories were seared into her brain like a brand. She tried to stop herself but instinctively ran her tongue across her lips. Why did her memories have to be so vivid?

She forced herself to look at his face. “Uh, yeah.”

“Good. You ever get that wine?” His mouth curved into a slight smile.

“Yeah, my glass is in the kitchen.” The pantry in the house had a lot more stuff than Michael’s. She felt a little guilty about raiding a stranger’s home and taking their wine and food, but there wasn’t much they could do about it.

He turned and though every instinct told her to retreat to her room, she had no choice but to follow. They needed to talk. She knew that. Unfortunately, her body wanted to do everything but talk.

After snagging her glass she found him in the living room. A few tea-light candles on the coffee table were lit and the lights were dimmed. He’d said earlier that he wanted to use as little electricity as possible so people wouldn’t see them at the house, but the candles made the atmosphere seem far too intimate. She started to sit on the smaller couch, away from him, but at the last second decided to join him on the longer couch.

“Is Jonathan asking any questions about what’s going on?” he asked, his voice filled with concern.

“No, but when he’s worried, he clams up. I think he’s taking everything in stride, but…” She shrugged.

“What about you? That woman’s death seemed to shake you up pretty bad.”

“I’m fine.” But she wasn’t. Not really.

Silence descended. She recognized the lustful stare in Hunter’s eyes. Unfortunately, her body responded. More than she would admit, she wanted him to act on his desires because it was exactly what she wanted. Needed. But making the first move was too much for her right now. She couldn’t blame it on the wine either. She’d only had one sip, but when he stared at her with those soulful eyes, her mind stopped functioning.

“Uh, Alexis?” Hunter’s head cocked slightly to the side and she realized she was staring.